Travel is Our Drug

Panama: Lost Waterfalls Trail (Boquete)

After the all-day torrential downpour yesterday, we were ecstatic to wake to blue skies this morning.  We had breakfast at 8:30, and it was deeelicious.  I had french toast and sausage this morning; K had oatmeal, sausage and toast.  The sausage is homemade.  As in, Randy spices and stuffs it himself, and then cooks it for his guests.  So.  Good.

Randy and Kat dropped us on the road, as close as possible to the trail for the Lost Waterfalls trail, around 9:30.  Our phone doesn’t work again out here, so they promised they’d be back at 12:30 to get us.  Thank God we have that taken care of today.  I’m not down for squishy shoes and soggy clothes plastered to every inch of my body for a second day in a row.

roadtowaterfallstrailFrom the paved road where we were dropped, it was still a bit of a hike up to the trailhead.  We hiked for a bit up a flat, gravel drive before crossing a hanging bridge and heading up a steeper section of gravel and rudimentary steps.

khangingbridgehiketotrailheadWe had the cutest little puppy that tagged along with us from a house at the hanging bridge up to the trailhead.  He took a liking to K and was bounding along nipping at his pants legs.  I wanted to put him in my backpack and steal him!

ktrailheadpuppyNear the trailhead, the path leveled out a bit and we had great views across the area.  Scads of dense vegetation, in a variety of green hues, covering the rolling mountains.

trailheadviewAt the trailhead, we stopped at a tiny booth to pay $5 each for the hike, and the woman gave us a rough description, in Spanish, of what to expect of the hike.  Her estimates were 15 min to the first waterfall and 10 additional minutes to each of the other falls, which turned out to be a pretty extreme underestimation.

trailheadboothThe trail started out flat – a narrow dirt path cut through the dense vegetation.  It quickly descended, fairly steeply, rising up the hillside, and then cutting into the trees.

hiddenwaterfalltrailThe estimate of 15 minutes to the first waterfall turned out to be pretty accurate.  The trail varied between steep climbs and flat, narrow portions where we caught our breath and kept a pretty good pace.

The first waterfall was a bit off the main trail.  It was a really tall one that spilled from between the trees above and splattered onto the rocks below.  There was a bench there, so we sat and enjoyed the serenity of hearing nothing but the roar of water for a bit before heading on.

rwaterfall1rkwaterfall1From the first waterfall, it was a pretty steep climb back up to the trail.  There were dirt-packed stairs that were tall enough that my little legs had a hard time stretching far enough to climb up some of them.  Luckily there was a nice railing so I could haul myself up without having to crawl.

rhugestepsBack up at the main trail, we found a sign directing us, which didn’t up being all that accurate either.

waterfallmapWe did some more up-and-down, steep hiking to get to the second waterfall.  The trail hugged a rock face in some places, and we dodged vines and tree roots.

ktrailtowaterfall2The second waterfall spilled down over a wide rock ledge above and fell into a shallow pool contained by a large field of rocks.

waterfall2kwaterfall2We stopped here to rest and take in the sights for a few minutes.  I found a nice log cut out to be a chair facing the waterfall.  As I sat and watched, people appeared atop the fall, waving and calling down to us.  The trail to the third fall crosses above this one.

rtreechair1rtreechairwaterfall2The trail up to the third waterfall was quite a bit more natural, undefined and difficult.  At some points, we were sinking in mud up to our ankles.  At some points it was difficult to discern where the trail led.  And in one spot there were ropes to help us scramble up the slick rock face.

trailropesrtrailropesAt a couple of points we debated whether we had time to make it up and back, or whether we should turn around.  But we persisted, and the third waterfall was worth it.  We first came upon it from downstream and had to do some rock hopping and wading to get up to it.

waterfall3This one was cool because you could walk around and behind it.  I started out along the trail behind, and almost didn’t make it.  It was so muddy and swampy that I slipped and fell at one point and sunk in mud halfway up my shins in another.  But I don’t give up easily, so I dragged myself out of the mud and made it around anyway.

rbehindwaterfall3We spent a bit of time here just enjoying the tranquility, the mist on our faces, the forces of nature surrounding us; thanking Gaia for another crazy, beautiful adventure.

rkwaterfall3I spent some time grounding myself on the rocks below me as I sent my thanks and intentions into the water and air swirling around me.  Such a peaceful, amazing place to discover.

rwaterfall3The hike took us a little over 2 hours, round trip, including some time to relax and enjoy the view at each waterfall.  We got back to the trailhead with a bit of time to spare before Randy and Kat returned for us, so we sat and rested our muddy feet and enjoyed a couple of Balboas (that we bought for $1 each from the booth) while we waited.

muddybootviewbalboaviewThe sky clouded in and seemed to be threatening rain, but luckily it never came.

Back at Mañana Madera, we gobbled down some ham sandwiches, grabbed our hammocks and coffee and headed down to the ranchito for some R&R.  I did a lot of reading and watched a couple of hummingbirds flit around the flowers surrounding the ranchito.

ranchitohummingbirdI also spent some time playing on the awesome wooden swing in a tree near the overlook to Volcán Barú.  This place really does have everything!

rswing1rswing2For dinner tonight, we went with another of Randy’s suggestions.

The Rock:

This place was another ex-pat and touristy place; not a lot of locals.  But the atmosphere was nice, the service was good and the food was great.  The place was pretty dark with white string lights, a fireplace and dimmed, hanging pendants adding to the mood.  The back wall was open to a covered outdoor seating area, which was nice.

therockThey had their own beers – a dark and a light.  We tried both, which were good.  For beer lovers, we weren’t totally bowled over, but it was a nice and different break from Balboa everywhere else.

kbeerstherockFor dinner I had beef kebabs that were fantastic.  They were deliciously marinated, super tender and cooked perfectly, served on a yummy pile of mashed potatoes.  K had sesame crusted salmon with risotto and grilled veggies, which was just as good.  We shared a brownie, served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream, for dessert.  A perfect ending to a fantastic meal.

rdinnertherockdesserttherockRandy had arranged for a taxi to come and pick us up, along with a couple of other guests that are staying in the other casita.  It was $7 per couple for the ~15 minute ride back.  By the time we got back it was raining again, so I climbed in bed to finish my borrowed book before morning.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to the jungle and head to Bocas del Toro for some more beach fun.

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